Ultrafast scintillators are the subject of current research in an effort to better resolve ultrafast phenomena in high-energy density physics (HEDP) experiments. Despite extensive research on new scintillator materials, the essential mechanism of energy absorption, excitation, and photo-emission has remained unchanged for over 50 years. Recently, a new class of semiconductor detector has been developed utilizing the radoptic effect, or the change of refractive index when subjected to radiation, in an attempt to record events faster than conventional scintillators.1 This study was designed for the observation of the radoptic effect by optical interferometry in different semiconductors to experimentally determine the fastest and most sensitive materials for the optimization of current radsensors.
The Bio-Aerosol Mass Spectrometry (BAMS) system is an instrument used for the real time detection and identification of biological aerosols. Particles are drawn from the atmosphere directly into vacuum and tracked as they scatter light from several continuous wave lasers. After tracking, the fluorescence of individual particles is excited by a pulsed 266nm or 355nm laser. Molecules from those particles with appropriate fluorescence properties are subsequently desorbed and ionized using a pulsed 266nm laser. Resulting ions are analyzed in a dual polarity mass spectrometer. During two field deployments at the San Francisco International Airport, millions of ambient particles were analyzed and a small but significant fraction were found to have fluorescent properties similar to Bacillus spores and vegetative cells. Further separation of non-biological background particles from potential biological particles was accomplished using laser desorption/ionization mass spectrometry. This has been shown to enable some level of species differentiation in specific cases, but the creation and observation of higher mass ions is needed to enable a higher level of specificity across more species. A soft ionization technique, matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization (MALDI) is being investigated for this purpose. MALDI is particularly well suited for mass analysis of biomolecules since it allows for the generation of molecular ions from large mass compounds that would fragment under normal irradiation. Some of the initial results from a modified BAMS system utilizing this technique are described.
The BioAerosol Mass Spectrometry (BAMS) system is a rapidly fieldable, fully autonomous instrument that can perform correlated measurements of multiple orthogonal properties of individual aerosol particles. The BAMS front end uses optical techniques to nondestructively measure a particle's aerodynamic diameter and fluorescence properties. Fluorescence can be excited at 266nm or 355nm and is detected in two broad wavelength bands. Individual particles with appropriate size and fluorescence properties can then be analyzed more thoroughly in a dual-polarity time-of-flight mass spectrometer. Over the course of two deployments to the San Francisco International Airport, more than 6.5 million individual aerosol particles were fully analyzed by the system. Analysis of the resulting data has provided a number of important insights relevant to rapid bioaerosol detection, which are described here.